Florida State Seminoles

Sunshine Rivalry

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

This is the best week of the year for college football fans.

Rivalry week is finale week to yet another college football season.

The feast begins Friday night at the Bounce House with “The War on I-4”, and ends Saturday night with Florida vs. Florida State.

We have heard it so many times in our college football lives, “You can throw the record book out when these two teams get together.”

This year it may be different, both UCF and Florida are heavy favorites in their respective matchups.

“The War on I-4” is the end of the year battle between UCF and South Florida. The Knight’s open up as a 23-point favorite. These are two teams heading in polar opposite directions.

The Bulls lead all-time series 6-4, but the Knights have won the last two games of the “War on I-4.”

Take it from me, this game is going to be a blow out! The Bulls have lost three home games in a row against Temple, Cincinnati and Memphis. Coach Charlie Strong is on the “HOT SEAT.” We can call it a local rivalry game, but the Bulls are no match for the Knights in 2019.

UCF has been one of the best offensive teams in the country with the points to prove it. The Knights have 30 or more in 31 straight games, which is the longest streak in the AP poll era (1936).

On Friday night, the Knights will extend the 30 or more point streak as they boat race the Bulls.

My prediction is this game is going to be ugly if you are a South Florida Bull.

Like all UCF home games this season, the game will be over by half time.

UCF 56 South Florida 20

Florida versus Florida State: The sheer richness of noteworthy games, assures us some wild rides and crazy results.

The Gators haven’t beaten the Seminoles in Gainesville since 2009. Since 2000, Florida State holds a 10-9 advantage, despite how close the record is the games have not been close.

Just two short years ago, the Florida Gators were in the same boat as this Florida State team. Florida fired Jim McElwain mid-season and the Seminoles thumped the Gators 31-13.

Fast forward to 2019, Florida State has fired Coach Will Taggart. Florida State is 2 and 0 since Intern Coach Odell Haggins took over the reins. The Seminoles became bowl eligible with a convincing 49-12 victory over Alabama State.

Coach Haggins is 4 and 0 for his career as a head coach at Florida State. Saturday night in the Swamp Coach Haggins will take his first lost.

Florida State has been a dumpster fire since the day Willie Taggart was hired. Don’t get me wrong, the Seminoles have a lot of talented players on their roster. It’s just those players talent has not translated into wins for the Seminoles.

Quick fact: Florida State ranked 124 in the NCAA in pass defense (the lowest in School history). The Gators ranked 19 in the NCAA in pass offense.

Florida State will start the game with a lot of fire and desire but at the end of the day they are no match for this year’s Gator team.

The Gators are playing for a New Year’s 6 bowl, and they would like to send their senior class of 18 players off with a victory.

The Seminoles have given up 36 sacks and 102 hurries in 2019, whereas the Gators have sacked the quarterback 38 times and 134 hurries.

Side note: Florida State’s search for a new head coach has taken a few turns over the past few weeks.

First, FSU strikes out on Bob Stoops. Next, brother Mark Stoops tells FSU no thanks.

The hot names are Norvell, Campbell, Clawson and Haggins.

Also, a report surfaced that Willie Taggart did not sign his contract. This report is not correct Willie Taggart signed his contract, but FSU administration did not sign. Just like the regular season FSU cannot finish.

Final Score:  Florida 45 Florida State 20

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Recapping last weekend college football action around the sunshine state, we have the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, to steal a line from the classic 1966 spaghetti western.

The Good:

UCF traveled to Boca Raton on Saturday and true freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel led the Knights to a 48-14 victory over FAU.

UCF’s rushing attack of McCrae (93 yards), Thompson (91 yards and a touchdown), Anderson (75 yards) and Killins (37) amassed more than 300 yards rushing for the second week in a row.

Gabriel finished the night 7 of 19 passing for 245 yard and 2 touchdowns. UCF’s defense put pressure on Florida Atlantic quarterback Chris Robinson all night long. UCF tallied 5 sacks with 16 tackles for loss.

Up next for the Knights is Stanford.

Stanford quarterback K.J. Castello is expected to start after missing last week’s loss to USC due to a concussion.

UCF opens as a seven-point favorite over the Cardinals. This is a classic battle of two contrasting styles. UCF wants to play fast, whereas Stanford prefers to play in a phone booth.

UCF’s defense will be challenged against Stanford’s huge offensive line.

Game time is 3:30 at The Bounce House.  Stanford melts in the fourth quarter. My take: UCF 34 Stanford 21

Florida Gators took care of business against one of their cupcakes on Saturday by shutting out UT Martin 45-0. Feleipe Franks completed 25-27 for 270 yards, 0 interceptions and 2 touchdowns. The Gators took care of business on both sides of the ball against a less talented UT Martin.

Up next for the Gators is a trip to Lexington, Kentucky to open SEC play against the Wildcats.

Both teams are 2-0 but Kentucky is forced to play without starting quarterback Terry Wilson due to injury. Wilson torched the Gators last season as Kentucky ended a 31-game losing streak vs. Florida.

Sawyer Smith will get the nod for the Wildcats on Saturday night. Kavosiey Smoke leads the Wildcat’s rushing attack 18 carries for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Florida will enter this contest with two major players out due to injury Kadarius Toney (shoulder) and C.J. Henderson (ankle).

The Gators look for revenge in the commonwealth after Kentucky broke the streak.  Gators defense too much for Smith and company. My take: Florida 31 Kentucky 16

The Bad:

The Miami Hurricanes have lost their first two games since 1978.

North Carolina Tar Heels defeated the Hurricanes 28-25. The Tar Heels were led for the second week in a row by Freshman quarterback Sam Howell. Howell’s touchdown pass to Dazz Newsome with 1:01 left in the game put the Tar Heels up 28-25.

Miami had one last chance but Bubba Baxa shanked the field goal attempt wide left to seal the North Carolina victory.

Jarren Williams 30 for 39 for 309 yards and 2 touchdowns and Deejay Dallas 14 carries for 107 yards paced the Hurricanes.

Miami will rebound this week with a blowout win against an overmatched Bethune Cookman Wildcats. My take: Miami 54 Bethune Cookman 13

The Ugly:

Florida State won the game against UL Monroe but collapsed in the 2nd half again.

Leading 24-7 at half, Florida State forgot for the second week that there are four quarters to play.

UL Monroe scored on their first four drive of the second half. UL Monroe outscored the Seminoles 31-14 in the second half, and forced overtime.

Cam Akers carried the Seminoles the entire game with 36 carries for 193 yards and 2 touchdowns while also catching 5 passes for 55 yards and a touchdown.

Akers scored on a third and goal to give the Seminoles lead 45-38.

UL Monroe QB Caleb Evans walked in moments later to bring UL Monroe an extra point from a second overtime.

The Seminoles got lucky when the extra point sailed wide right.

Florida State travels Virginia to open ACC conference play against the Cavaliers. Coach Taggart and company avoid a second straight disaster.

FSU right now is a dumpster fire and the Cavaliers take advantage of the chaos.  My take: Virginia 31 FSU 23.

Program Killer

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We’re all ecstatic that college football season is back.

We normally reflect on past greats and talk about their amazing performances. I think of guys that won national championships or Heisman’s like Tim Tebow, Tommie Frazier, Matt Leinart, Vince Young and Ken Dorsey.

There is another side to this, people that were highly recruited but never lived up to the hype in college. We can even go far enough to say they set their program back for several years with their poor play.

The top name that comes to mind is Chris Rix.

He was in the inaugural Elite 11 QB Camp. He led the California team to victory over Florida in the CaliForida Bowl 1 at the Rose Bowl and was one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation.

Rix arrived in Tallahassee in the Fall of 2000 and was red shirted. He got to watch Chris Wienke’s senior season, a Heisman-winning campaign that ended with a loss to Oklahoma in the national championship game.

Florida State was an amazing program during this time. The Seminoles finished the season ranked in the top five for 14 consecutive years at the end of 2000.

They won the ACC Championship 9 times, one for every year they were in the conference. They won two national championships during this time. They also played in the first three BCS national championship games from 1998-2000.

It’s safe to say expectations were high going in to the 2001 season. Rix was the only four-year starting QB Bobby Bowden ever had but that was not the plan.

Florida State typically had quarterbacks play backup for two years then play for two years, normally taking a redshirt to make that happen.

That was how it worked for Peter Tom Willis (started 1988-89), Casey Weldon (90-91), Charlie Ward (92-93), Danny Kanell (94-95), and Thad Busby (96-97). Redshirt junior Jared Jones would have been the starter but he got in off the field trouble.

Mark Richt gave him the option to sit another year and lose that year of eligibility or leave the team. Jones bolted to play minor league baseball.

Rix was forced to start and coincidentally the program took a nosedive. We can say that FSU dynasty ended September 22. 2001 against North Carolina.

Going in to that game they never lost to UNC and had only lost two conference games since joining the ACC in 1991. The year before they beat the Tar Heels 63-14.

The 0-3 Heels destroyed No. 6 FSU, 41-9. Rix threw an interception and lost 2 fumbles. Miami snapped a 54-game home winning streak in a blowout, 49-27. Rix lost 2 fumbles and threw 4 picks against the Hurricanes.

The ‘Noles lost to NC State at home which was the first home conference loss, snapping the 39-game streak.

Rix was still named ACC Rookie of the Year in 2001. His best statistical season was in 2003 and he passed for 3,107 yards with 23 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

He was a turnover machine that seemed to really crumble in big games. He finished with a 25-11 record as a starter. He’s also the only QB to lose to the same team 5 times in his career (Miami).

He missed the 2003 Sugar Bowl because he overslept and missed an exam, which caused him to get suspended from the game.

On a positive note he ranks second in school history in passes attempted, completed, and touchdowns thrown.

The team was actually worse from 2005-2009 after he left. In retrospect maybe he was a good player in a bad situation?

Atlantic Waves

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Let’s take a look at the ACC Atlantic division and predict how the teams will finish this season.

Clemson: The last time we saw the Tigers they manhandled Alabama in the national championship.

They finished the year 15-0 and I expect 2019 to be more of the same. Clemson is by far the most talented team in the conference and it’s not even close. They remind me of Florida State in the 90’s when they ran through the ACC.

They have one tough game at home Week 2 against Texas A&M. That was a close game last season but it was on the road in a hostile environment. Trevor Lawrence is a Heisman frontrunner and he should win it. They will go undefeated again.

Syracuse: The Orange went 10-3 in 2018, which was a big surprise. We will see if they can sustain that success in 2019. They have 7 starters returning on defense and quarterback Tommy DeVito is a rising star. They play Clemson at home September 14th and that will be the biggest ACC game of the year.

They have had some success against Clemson recently, so I think that will be a close game. The ‘Cuse should win 9 games.

Florida State: The Seminoles are the gold standard for a dynasty in the modern ACC era.

Former head coach Jimbo Fisher had a ton of success but they did not play well in his final 2017 season. He was replaced with Willie Taggart and so far, it looks like a bad hire.

In his lone season in Oregon, the Ducks were 7-5. After he left, they were 9-4. FSU was 7-6 in 2017 and they slipped to 5-7 under Taggart.

The ‘Gulf Coast’ offense he brought to Tallahassee was terrible. Tailback Cam Akers is really the only bright spot for the team and he’s hoping to have a bounce back year. He rushed for over 1,000 yards as a freshman in 2017 but last year only had 706 yards. I think they can win 7 games.

NC State: The good news is the Wolfpack have 8 starters returning on defense. The bad news is on the other side of the ball.

Offensive coordinator and QB coach Eli Drinkwitz left to become the head coach at Appalachian State. They also lost three starters from a standout offensive line, two 1,000-yard receivers and quarterback Ryan Finley. All of those weapons led them to a 9-4 record and they were 6-2 in the ACC.

I expect them to take a step back because they have so much to replace on offense. They should win 7 games.

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons were 7-6 last year, which is very good for this program.

An interesting fact is they have two players from the show QB 1 Beyond the Lights, Tayvon Bowers and Sam Hartman.

Hartman played well as a true freshman, throwing for 1,984 yards and 16 touchdowns in 9 games. They have the opportunity to go to their fourth consecutive bowl game and that should happen. They will win 6 games.

Boston College: The Eagles were 7-5 in 2018. They relied heavily on quarterback Anthony Brown and running back AJ Dillon. Both of them return this season so expect more of the same. They are good enough to win at least 6 games.

Louisville: The Cardinals were terrible last year, which got Bobby Petrino fired.

He was replaced by Scott Satterfield who had the same position at Appalachian State.

This is the worst team in the conference so I think they will win 3 or 4 games.

ACC Still King

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We’re heading in to the second week of March Madness and so far, it has been exciting. We have the usual upsets like 12 seed Murray State beating Marquette, a five seed. \

The ACC is known as the best basketball conference and to some extent, they proved it. They also have raised some questions with the overall performance after the first weekend. They have sent the most teams (5) to the next round.

Duke is the number one overall seed in the tournament and top seed in the East. They are the only clear-cut favorite to win it all but they struggled in the round of 32. The opponent was No. 9 seed Central Florida and they won a nail biter, 77-76.

This game was much closer than anyone expected and the Blue Devils took the lead in the final minute. I’m not sure if this is a cause for concern for Duke or just a close game that can happen during the tournament.

For instance, 5th seed Auburn beat 12th seed New Mexico State by one point in the first round. Then they turned around and beat Kansas.

The Sweet 16 opponent for Duke is an ACC team, 4th seed Virginia Tech. The Hokies beat Duke at home last month. That was a game without Zion Williamson and the Blue Devils went 0-3 during that stretch. Duke is a completely different team with Zion so Va Tech cannot put much stock in their previous game.

We did not expect UCF to almost beat the Blue Devils so anything can happen. I do believe this will be a very close game but Duke should win.

No.1 seed Virginia has rebounded well after last season’s debacle. They became the first one seed to lose to a 16 seed in last year’s tournament. They appeared to be headed in the same direction this year. Gardner-Webb led Virginia by as many as 14 points in the first half. They went into the half leading by 6.

UVA came back in the second half and won71-56. In the second round, they beat Oklahoma. I have little faith in the Cavaliers because of what they did last season.

They play 12 seed Oregon in the next round. The Ducks lost their best player, Bol Bol for the season back in December. Virginia should win easily.

Florida State is the 4 seed and they play the top seed in the West, Gonzaga. These teams have recent history since they played in the tournament last season.

The Seminoles won easily, 75-60. You know Gonzaga is looking for revenge and that will make this the must watch game of the Sweet 16.

FSU is a team full of tall and athletic players that can defend. With that said, I think the Bulldogs are a better team this season and they should walk away with the win.

North Carolina is the top seed in the Midwest and they will face off against 5 seed Auburn.

The Tigers are a very good team and they won the SEC tournament. They are not a traditional powerhouse in basketball but Coach Bruce Pearl has turned that program around.

UNC is too talented though and I think they will win the national championship. That means I’m picking the Tar Heels to win the game.

A League Of Their Own

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

There are only a few games remaining in the college basketball regular season. At this point we know who the contenders and pretenders are.

The ACC has been the best conference for several years and this season is no different. Currently there are 10 teams that will qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

Things have played out differently than we initially expected before the season began though. Duke was the top ranked team in the preseason so expectations were very high. The Blue Devils always compete with Kentucky for the top recruiting class and they had a lot of incoming talent.

They landed the top recruit in the class of 2017, power forward Marvin Bagley. Point guard Trevon Duval also committed to Duke and he was ranked 6th nationally. Teaming these young stars up with senior Grayson Allen sounded like a slam-dunk.

Bagley is the team’s leading scorer and rebounder and he’s missed some games with a right knee sprain.

They are 22-5 and the No. 5 team in the country so they are having a pretty good season. The surprise is that Virginia is the best team in the conference and they have a three game lead over Duke.

The Cavaliers have only lost one conference game and their top ranked nationally. They have sustained success over the last five years so maybe we should have expected this.

North Carolina has been inconsistent this season. We know the Tar Heels are the defending national champions and they played in the championship game the past two years. They lost several players from that team so we expected some growing pains.

They lost to Wofford at home in December. In ACC play they had a three game losing streak to Virginia Tech, NC State and Clemson.

They ended the streak against a terrible Pitt team then beat Duke. The Heels are a good team but too inconsistent to advance far in the tournament.

The most shocking team is Clemson because their typically doormats in basketball. The Tigers are No. 15 in the nation and fourth in the ACC. They have not made it to the NCAA Tournament since 2011. They are a legit team and they have a chance to win a couple of games once they get there.

Virginia Tech is also playing well. The Hokies are fifth in the ACC and have a winning record in conference play. After a 10-year absence from March Madness they made it in last season. This will make two consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for a program that has only been nine times.

NC State is tied with Va Tech. The Wolfpack as a program have struggled with maintaining success. They beat Duke and North Carolina, which is a major accomplishment.

Louisville has performed well but they are on probation. I believe they have a post-season ban.

Two football schools, Miami and Florida State are both currently 19-8. These two programs have been very good over the last four years so maybe this should be expected at this point.

Syracuse is the final team that will make the tourney. They used to be an elite team in the Big East. After making the switch to the ACC they have been fairly disappointing.

The conference tournament will be very competitive. There is always the possibility of an unexpected team winning it.

New Chief In Tallahassee

By: Alex Mathis

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Florida State has found their new coach. Willie Taggart will take over the head coaching job at FSU.

Taggart has had an interesting coaching journey. Taggart got his first head coaching job at Western Kentucky. After leaving Western Kentucky, Taggart moved on to University of South Florida.

He was able to turn the Bulls around and make them a powerhouse in Florida. His work at USF led to him taking the head coaching job at Oregon. Though only spending a year at Oregon, Taggart was able to turn the struggling Ducks program around.

Now, the next program he has to turn around is Florida State. Florida State is coming off one of their worst seasons in decades. The team is loaded with talent and now it is Taggart’s job to lead it.

In Taggart’s introduction interview he said that FSU was his dream job. He grew up a Noles fan and told stories of wearing garnet and gold and pulling for the Noles when he was coaching at USF.

FSU has a guy who loves FSU now. Current players are saying there is a different attitude in Tallahassee now. Deion Sanders, Peter Warrick, and other past FSU stars are back around the program. Taggart has the support from current players, past players, and the fans. All there is left to do now is win.

Taggart has also done a great job assembling his staff. He has raided Michigan State of their defensive coordinator, Harlon Barnett.

Bennett is a proven defensive coordinator and has had Michigan State ranked high in a lot of defensive categories nationally. With the speed and talent at FSU, the defense should reminiscent of the Mickey Andrews defenses of the Bowden era.

Donte’ Pimpleton will coach the running backs. He is following Taggart from Oregon. Telly Lockette will coach tight ends. He coached with Taggart as well. Greg Frey will coach the offensive line. He coached at Michigan last year. Odell Haggins will be the only member to from the previous staff. Haggins has been at FSU 20 plus years coaching defensive line. The linebackers will be coached by Raymond Woodie. Woodie is also coming from Oregon. Alonzo Hampton will be the special teams coach. Hampton has some Georgia ties, where coached at Tift County. There are a few more sports left open on Taggart’s staff. He is in the process of filling out that staff now.

Taggart was also able to come in during December and get some big recruits to sign letters of intents to play at FSU. He is known for being able to recruit and he will definitely be able to do this at FSU as well.

FSU is ranked outside of the top 25 in recruiting at this moment. I expect the Noles to be in the top 25 and maybe top 10 when the February signing day gets here.

There is definitely a different feel in the Tallahassee air. There will always be high expectations in Tallahassee and their new coach is a big name that has assembled a bunch of big names to accompany him in Tallahassee. Now it is time to see if this hire will be a homerun or a strikeout.

College Football Week One

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

After 8 long months the wait is finally over: the college football season has finally arrived. And nothing welcomes the beginning of a new year quite like the obligatory “Five Week 1 Prognostications Guaranteed To Go Wrong, But It Doesn’t Matter Because I’ll Write About Something Completely Different Next Week And Never Mention These Predictions Again.” Sounds like a good time, right?

  • Georgia will beat Appalachian State, but not by much and will actually trail at some point in the second half.

I know I’m not going on too much of a limb to predict a Georgia win, and as much as I wanted to pick an Appalachian victory, I just can’t do it. The Mountaineers return an experienced team on both sides of the ball and a 5th year senior in Quarterback, Tyler Lamb. They should’ve beaten Tennessee last year and will make UGA work for it this year. The Dawgs are too athletic and too talented not to come away with a win, though.

  • Alabama will lose to Florida State.

I know it’s not all that wise to go against Alabama, basically ever, but intelligence has never really been my strong suit. What I do know is this, the last time Nick Saban lost back to back games was probably when he was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. He handled that adversity so well he decided to leave the NFL and go back to college. My hope is that if he loses to Florida State maybe he’ll leave college football and go back to high school. One can dream, right?

  • LSU will fail to score 20 points on a BYU team that thinks about defense the same way Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor think about humility.

Ed Orgeron did some good things for the Tigers last year after replacing Les Miles; mainly reinvigorating the fan base. Their offense SHOULD be better than it was last year, but then again, I should know better than to eat an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream before watching Game of Thrones, yet I do it anyway. Point is, a lot of things that should be different, oftentimes never change. See, LSU Offense.

  • South Alabama will beat Ole Miss.

South Alabama is a middle of the pack, Sun Belt conference team, that should have no business bearing any SEC team. Fortunately for them, they’re playing the one SEC team that probably doesn’t have any business winning a SEC game either. I have no idea what to expect from the Rebels this year, except it’s not going to be a pretty site in Oxford.

  • The Florida/Michigan game will wind up being the most intriguing game of the weekend.

I have no idea if it’ll be because the play on the field will be that exciting or because there’s a 50/50 chance that Jim Harbaugh and Jim McElwain will fight it out Mortal Kombat style halfway through the game. Either way, one of those two things will happen and it will be glorious to behold.

Now that I have channeled my inner Nostradamus feel free to enter this most sacred of weekends with the knowledge that these outcomes have already been foretold.

Of course, if I happen to be mistaken don’t waste your time letting me know. At that point, I’ll have already forgotten what I said and moved on to my next topic. You didn’t think I would hold myself accountable for my own thoughts, did you?

The Streak

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Let’s just go ahead and get this out in the open; I know next to nothing about college baseball and I am perfectly fine with that.

I don’t watch any games during the regular season. I don’t follow it at all during the tournament. I’m not even sure I could name a current player or coach. I’m about as knowledgeable about college baseball as and member of Metallica is about playing the piccolo.

So, why in the hell would someone who has absolutely no interest in a particular sport spend his time writing about it? Because, even I can appreciate when something extraordinary is happening.

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